We Bought The Farm

      147 Comments on We Bought The Farm

First off, I’d like to thank The Older Brother for once again taking over the sandbox while I was tied up with moving.  It’s fun to read the Fat Head blog and laugh out loud for a change.  (I don’t laugh while writing, or while reading what I’ve written.)

I’d also like to thank him for creating a new word that I hope will become part of the paleo-blogger vernacular:  vegetrollian.  Perfect.

Now for the big news, starting with the short version:

As of 10:00 a.m. this morning, when the closing documents were filed, we officially became the proud owners of a 5.7-acre mini-farm here in Franklin, TN.


I’ve been dying to tell y’all about it for weeks, but heard enough horror stories about real-estate deals falling apart the last minute that I decided to wait until the deal was all signed, sealed and delivered.  We visited the property with Amy Dungan and her family while they were here a few weeks back, but I swore her to secrecy.

I said in my last post that we were moving this week and then moving again in about three months.  That’s because the house on the property needs some significant renovations, so we had to move into an apartment while they’re underway.  If all goes well, we’ll become small-time farmers – or least people living on a small farm – around the end of October.

Now for the long version.  (Seriously, it’s long.  You may want to get a cup of coffee or a cold drink before continuing.)


Not long after we moved here two years ago, Chareva began dreaming of owning enough land to raise chickens and perhaps some goats or sheep.  One of the many reasons I love Franklin is that owning a few acres isn’t an impossible dream here … in fact, it’s quite possible.  Drive away from downtown Franklin or one of the subdivisions, and within a minute or two you’re looking at small farms and ranches, many of which are situated between residential areas.  Multi-acre properties that would require movie-star money anywhere near Los Angeles are fairly common around here.

Owning land wasn’t an impossible dream, but nonetheless felt like a distant one until recently.  Back in May, I told the owner of the house we were renting that we’d sign for another year when our lease expires on August 1st.  My plan was to save up a decent down-payment and go looking for a property next spring.

Part of the reason I set my sights on next year is that when we bought our house in Burbank 10 years ago, I learned that if you’re self-employed, mortgage bankers calculate your income based largely on the average of  your previous two tax returns.  We incurred some big fat production expenses for Fat Head in 2009, which pushed my adjusted income close to the official poverty level.  Business in 2010 was pretty good, but averaged together with 2009, the resulting income figure wouldn’t exactly make a mortgage banker stand up and uncork the champagne.  So I figured next year would be our soonest opportunity to buy some land.

In early June, our landlord changed all my figuring by telling us a friend of a friend was interested in buying the house and wanted to come by for a look.  Suddenly we were facing the possibility of having to move in August whether or not it fit our plans.  Chareva had been regularly checking for multi-acre properties online for some time (mostly just to indulge her dream) and told me a 5.7-acre mini-farm that seemed ridiculously under-priced had just been listed the day before.  She called our next-door-neighbor, who happens to a realtor, and said we wanted to see the property.

As we walked around the land and through the house the next day, I understood why it was under-priced:  the elderly widow living there hadn’t maintained much of anything for a long time.  The land was overgrown with waist-high weeds – even some of the fences were obscured.  Every room in the house needed painting, every floor needed refinishing, many of the fixtures needed replacing, and the whole place smelled like dirt, dog hair, and mold.

So you can imagine my surprise when we got in the van to leave and Chareva said, “I love it.  I want it.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m serious.  It’s a fixer-upper.  You have to picture what it can be, not what it is.”

“Yeah, well, maybe.  Sherry has a couple of other places on her list we should probably look at before—“

“No, this is the one.”

“You feel that strongly about it?”

“Yes.  It’s worth way more than she’s asking, and if we don’t put in an offer right away, someone else will snap it up.”

I was reminded of something Dave Ramsey said in his financial seminar:  Guys, when your wife gets one of “those feelings,” you’d better listen, because she’s probably right.

It occurred to me then that while the girls and I were walking around the property with our realtor, Chareva had disappeared for awhile.  Turns out she’d been talking to Barbara – the owner – and they’d bonded immediately.  Chareva explained why she wanted a small farm, how it had been her dream since moving to Tennessee.  Barbara shared her own stories of raising chickens and goats.  Before we left, Barbara told Chareva she felt like they could be long-lost relatives.

The next day we went to see a mortgage banker at Wells Fargo who, much to my surprise, didn’t laugh out loud when he examined the 2009 tax return along with our other financial records.  In fact, he looked at my software sales for the year so far, plus the license fees from Netflix, the PayPal DVD sales, etc., and said, “You know, your income sources are kind of unusual, but I think maybe I can make this work for you.”  He wrote a letter stating that in his opinion, we were qualified to buy the property.  That’s not the same as getting a loan approved – just an initial opinion allowing us to make a good-faith offer.

That afternoon, our realtor called.  Someone else had already made an offer on the property, just as Chareva predicted.  So Chareva violated the usual etiquette of real-estate transactions by calling Barbara directly.  Please put in your own offer, Barbara said.  I want you to have this farm.  I feel like it’s supposed to be yours.  I won’t accept the other offer until I hear from you.

So we called our realtor and she came over to draw up the offer, even though we didn’t yet have loan approval from Wells Fargo.

For the next few days, I worried that Chareva would be crushed if the bank turned us down.  She’s emotionally resilient, but definitely had her heart set on the mini-farm – and I mean this one in particular, not just any ol’ mini-farm.  It wasn’t so much the house as the property that grabbed her.  Other five-acre properties she’d seen online were either all flat pasture or nearly all forested.  But this one consisted of three distinct pastures, a small creek, some hills, and some forested area with huge trees.  The surrounding area is mostly forest and hills.  It’ll be gorgeous when the leaves turn in the autumn.  Best of all, the property is only 10 minutes from downtown Franklin and three minutes from the Gentry Farm, which raises and sells grass-fed beef.

We finally got the call from our realtor on a Friday night, just after Amy Dungan and her family arrived for a weekend visit.  Yes, Barbara had accepted our offer, and yes, Wells Fargo had approved the loan – in fact, they also approved a renovation loan to go with it so we could begin fixing up the house immediately after closing.  I was delighted to get the news while we had good friends in town for a visit.  I opened some wine for a toast.

The next Monday, our landlord emailed to say his potential buyer wasn’t interested in the house, so he’d draw up another year-long lease. I replied that we’d just gone under contract to buy another house, but we’d like to continue renting for a few extra months while the new house was being renovated.  He didn’t reply, so the next day I called him and made the same offer.  He said he was heading into a meeting, and but we’d work out the details later.

The next couple of weeks were a blur of inspections, meetings with contractors, meetings with the bank, calls to my accountant to pull files the bank needed, etc.  The first two contractors wanted more for the renovations than the bank had approved.  No go.  Then we learned that another neighbor’s brother is a contractor.  He came out for an inspection and showed us exactly what needs doing immediately, what can wait, and where we could save money by hiring his usual sub-contractors directly.  Then he turned in a bid the bank approved.

The big surprise came less than three weeks ago, when the landlord apparently forgot our conversation about extending the lease and announced that his new renters would be moving in on August 1st, so we should start making arrangements to leave.  My suspicious side says he didn’t want to turn me down on a month-to-month lease until he found another year-long renter, but he’s also a bit of a scatter-brain, so it’s possible he forgot.  Whatever.

So we spent the next couple of days looking around the area for an extended-stay hotel that wouldn’t cost a fortune and trying to figure out what the @#$% to do with our furniture and belongings for three months.  A hotel, hmmm … I love my girls, but I wasn’t looking forward to sharing what would amount to a studio apartment with them for three months.

Our realtor suggested we look at a nearby apartment complex that rents a few units on a short-term basis.  We dropped by the next day, and it turned out they had exactly one unit available that they could rent on a three-month lease.  The girls were thrilled to discover that the large complex includes two big pools and a playground.

We were relieved to find the apartment, but now instead of facing one move three months down the road, we were facing four moves:  some of the furniture and belongings to an apartment, most of it to some kind of storage facility, then from the apartment to the new house and from the storage facility to the new house after the renovations are finished.  It was a bit overwhelming, thinking about making all this happen with just over two weeks to go.

Now … (I warned you this was a long story) … back up two years.  When we left California, we got three quotes from moving companies.  The local Allied Van Lines quote came in significantly lower than the others, so we took that one.  The day of our move, the independent owner-operator they’d contracted with was clearly unhappy.  After two hours of picking up bad vibes, I asked him if something was bothering him.

It turned out the local Allied rep had under-estimated the contents of our house and therefore the cost, probably to ensure we’d go through them.  They get a commission, contract the work to a trucker, and they’re done.  Unfortunately, the bad estimate on how much truck space we’d require meant that Doug (the guy actually doing the move) and his crew would have to skip what was supposed to be their third pickup in California before heading east.

I asked Doug who ends up eating the loss in a situation like this.

“I do.”

“How much will you lose by skipping that third pickup?”

“Gross or profit?”

“Profit.  What’s this going to take out of your pocket?”

“Around five hundred bucks.”

“Okay, listen, Doug .. I’m not going to let you eat the cost of Allied’s mistake, so let’s not make this an issue between you and me.  You didn’t cause the problem, and I didn’t cause the problem.  Allied caused the problem, but I’ll make it up to you when we arrive in Tennessee.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m still getting a good deal on the move.”  His disposition changed immediately.

When I handed him the cash after the move, he told me he’d been screwed by moving-company estimators several times, but I was only the second customer ever who offered to make up the difference.  We parted on excellent terms.

So … faced with a sudden moving emergency, it occurred to me to call Doug, who lives maybe an hour from here.  Yes, he said, of course he remembered us.  Sure, he knew exactly what to do.  We’d put most of our belongings into PODS storage containers for the next three months.  He’d make arrangements with his own crews to conduct all four moves, and he’d give us a better deal than any of the moving companies.

And he did.  Two of the moves are already out the way.

We’ve been in the apartment since Monday.  It’s quite an adjustment, going from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment.  In the house, one of the bedrooms was my office.  In the apartment, my office is now one small desk in a corner of my bedroom.  I don’t even have my printer or business phone line hooked up yet.

But it’s all worth it.  The mini-farm will be fabulous someday … but getting from here to someday will require more work and more funds than we’re getting in the form of a renovation loan.  I’ll also be paying a mortgage, apartment rent, and storage-facility rent for the next three months.

Faced with these facts, I conducted a quick observational study that showed a fairly strong correlation between A) working and B) money.  Being a skeptic, I asked myself the usual questions:  could it be that B causes A?  That is, does having money cause work to appear?  No, I didn’t think so.  Okay, could it be that A and B are both caused by C?  Perhaps something in the environment produces more money and also causes us to work more.  Nope, that didn’t seem likely either.

Reluctantly, I concluded that 1) the house and land will require money to fix up, and 2) working more leads to extra money.  So after two years of blogging and working part-time from home, I decided to go back to full-time contract work as a programmer, at least for awhile.  I have, in fact, been working weekdays at BMI in Nashville for two weeks now.  I’m just now starting to get used to waking up at 7:00 a.m. again.

Since I wrote two songs for Fat Head, I happen to be member of BMI.  (Pretty much everyone who writes music that’s heard on radio, film or TV joins BMI or ASCAP.)  First day on the job as a database programmer, I looked up my records to make sure I actually exist.  I do.  I didn’t worry about entering payment records, since as the producer of Fat Head I’d have to pay myself as a songwriter.  I’ll probably just skip all that.

Anyway … (whew!)  … that’s the big news I’ve been keeping secret for the past several days.  It’s been a crazy, stressful month, but Chareva’s dream is coming true.  She’s reading up on how to be a mini-farmer, with the goal of raising or growing much more of what we eat.  Back to the land and all that.  For my part, I’m starting to plan the layout of my Frisbee golf course around the property.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ll continue blogging as well.  When two people from Chicago take up mini-farming in Tennessee, there are bound to be some good stories to share.


147 thoughts on “We Bought The Farm

  1. Sonia M

    First, I’d like to say my “congrats” on the farm! I’d also like to argue that Kenny M is probably not a troll, or as you put it “vegetrollian.” If Kenny M was actually a troll I doubt he would let himself sound so stupid. Nobody would say such juvenile things and post links disproving their point unless they’re just trying do their own critique of (in this case) real vegans. So I say, “way to go, Kenny M! Keep making fun of those silly vegans!”

    As for your farm, I’m super jealous! The closest I’ll get to that is probably having a bunch of fruit trees in my back yard. I have a list of all the ones I want to plant, and the way it’s going I’m going to need to buy the next door neighbor’s house, knock it down, and THEN I’ll have barely enough room 🙂 I love the idea of a farm, but it’s not too feasible in Burbank, CA

    When we lived in Burbank, just owning a house with a decent-sized yard seemed like a dream.

    I’d like to believe Kenny is a secret meat-eater making fun of vegans, but unfortunately his irrational outbursts aren’t exactly what I’d call atypical among the vegetrollians who show up here now and then.

  2. Auntie M

    It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect, you know. Stupid people don’t realize they’re stupid, poor things. 🙂 Still, really? Butt insults?

    I third the recommendation for the Encyclopedia of Country Living. I own it, and it’s chock full of good information. I also have Four-Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman, and The Backyard Homestead, which might be worth a look, though it focuses on how to produce food in a small area. I wish our neighborhood allowed chickens. I would have them in a heartbeat!

    Congratulations on the great news! I would love to have something like that. I have a friend with about 5 acres who raises chickens and has a great garden, and luckily she shares her eggs and produce with us. The eggs are amazing! The produce is great, too, but my husband is more of a veggie eater, so I let him have the bulk of them. Keep us posted on your progress. You’re going to be so happy you went this direction!

  3. Sabine

    Congratulations on your exciting news. I’m looking forward to the great posts.
    Just a warning, though: Spinning is the gateway drug to weaving!

  4. Alexandra

    Congratulations Tom and Chareva, what an exciting life change for your family. I have lived the rural life for years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Goats are fun escape artists..I once discovered our goat on the ground under a low fence escaping commando style. Another time, I looked out the window to see the goat in a tug-of-war with our tenant over a freshly line dried bed sheet.. hilarious!
    (the tenant didn’t think it was all that funny)

    I hope the next three months flies by and that renovations go smoothly.

    The vegetrollians just make me laugh! I picture them all sneaking meaty/fatty snacks when no one is looking and then feeling guilty and then attempting to purge that guilt through this type of trolling.

    I’ve heard from several people that goats are challenging. We’ll probably start with chickens and see how it goes.

  5. LCNana

    Tom, I forgot to tell you in my post of congrats that I (dumb bunny that I am) imagined that your house was going to be used in a movie and that’s why you were out, then back in!!! I should pay more attention to what you ‘actually say’ in your blog! I’d forgotten you mentioned your dream plans in the past…duh!!

    Can I mention something in the ‘bathroom’ line? Seeing as the Vegetrollians started this whole subject….my “product” does not smell as bad on meat as it did on veggies and SAD (sorry for the bluntness!!). This is in contrast to conventional vegan silliness….and I think a result of good digestion, eating what God intended me to eat. After all, He had a choice of giving me one stomach or four – guess which one He chose?

    I still have bad memories of suffering through a long flight from Chicago to Las Vegas after eating a bowl of vegetarian chili just before boarding. My digestive issues went away when I gave up grains and legumes.

  6. Kenny M

    I suppose I have to spell it out for you since you (and the biased commenters) are too lazy to look at the numerous health benefits of veganism. Besides not being fat, overweight, fart producers (like you see in Wal Mart and on the low carb cruise), vegans look ‘good’. I know Tom makes a rant about how vegans look like ‘the walking dead’, but in reality I’d rather continue to look skinny than to look like one of those plump, overweight, smelly low carbers (see plenty of them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkysgirl/page13/)

    I know you think I’m stupid, but I’ve become very adapted to your defense mechanisms. For example, a link pops up showing that vegan/vegetarian children have higher on average IQ’s? Tom brings up the whole correlation does not equal causation trope (with no evidence other than his slanted opinion). Someone points out to him that cultures in other countries are quite healthy on high carb, low fat diets (Japan). Tom points out that the Japanese don’t eat as much refined carbs and sugar and that’s why they aren’t fat (hint: neither do vegans). Someone points out to Tom that Americans are really really fat, he says that it’s because of all the refined carbs, not the (huge) increase in saturated fat consumption over the past 2 decades (riiiiiiight). If only the fatties would skip the side order of french fries and just get an extra beef patty, we could have avoided all of this.

    Anyways like I said, time to spell it out for you:

    The most impressive data arises from a study of 1904 vegetarians over 21 years by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum). The study’s shocking results: vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50%! Women vegetarians benefit from a 30% reduction in mortality.

    Whoops. That’s OK though, I’m sure you’ll have some Cosby-esque snarky comment to this data, then mention something like ‘Of course they live longer, everyone in that study was an elitist rich white person!’

    Oh yea, and one for the road: http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/ibs/living/8-foods-that-can-cause-diarrhea-and-indigestion.aspx

    Fats. Too much dietary fat can lead to steatorrhea, a sometimes painful condition marked by foul-smelling stools that float. Fat can also increase peristaltic activity, leading to more bowel movements.

    Red meat. While red meat is a great source of vitamin B12 and other nutrients, it is hard to digest

    Looks like my comment about smelly butts isn’t crazy after all. I love being right 🙂

    -a long(er) living vegan

    Once again, Kenny Boy, you’ve demonstrated your inability to comprehend plain English. The study you linked didn’t say vegan/vegetarian children have higher IQs. The study stated specifically that vegetarian children have slightly higher IQs (a mere correlation which tells us nothing about cause) while vegan children have LOWER IQs. It was right there in front of your face, Kenny Boy.

    So yes, I think you’re stupid. In fact, by this point in the conversation, I know for a fact that you’re an utter moron with no ability to comprehend basic logic, much less basic principles of science. I’m sure you can find all kinds of correlations between a vegetarian lifestyle and better health, because it’s health-minded people who choose a vegetarian lifestyle in the first place. That’s why I gave it a try. And then those who experience negative results — like me and many of my readers — quit and move on. Those left standing are health-conscious people who, compared to the general population, are far less likely to smoke, drink too much, consume sodas and candies and other junk, more likely to exercise, etc. — and they’re also the ones who didn’t feel lousy as vegetarians. Compare them to health-conscious paleo dieters who don’t smoke, drink too much, consume sodas and other junk, and I’d bet on the paleo dieters every time. Of course, that study has never been conducted, but studies have shown that Mormons — who aren’t vegetarians but don’t smoke, drink, eat candy, etc. — are the longest-lived non-Asian group in the U.S. And while Asians may perhaps be genetically pre-disposed to live longer, the longest-lived Asians in the world are the Okinawans, who also consume the most fat and meat of all Asian groups.

    But if you want to believe we can draw causation from weak observational studies, then you’ll have to explain the observational studies that showed vegetarians have higher rates of colon cancer, or that the incidence of colon cancer among non-vegetarians went down as meat-eating went up. They’re out there. I’ve read them. I even displayed the data from them in a recent post. And if you believe correlation proves cause, then you’ll have re-read that study you linked earlier and conclude that being a vegan lowers your IQ. Because once again, despite your inability to comprehend plain English, the study stated specifically that vegan children have lower IQs (If only the researchers had done more analysis, they might have also discovered that a vegan diet produces mental disturbances, including an obsession with smelly butts.)

    Yes, Kenny Boy, you’re a moron. You’ve proved it over and over by now. I of course don’t expect you to recognize that, because stupid people are incapable of recognizing their own stupidity.

  7. Pete Ballerstedt

    Congratulations on getting “back to the land!” Here’s to the coming adventure! Needless to say, this will be a whole new reality for all of you. There’s lots of help and information available. Don’t hesitate to ask.

  8. Kenny M

    Seems like YOU are the one that’s not comprehending things, might want to take a shower and wash out your bottom 🙂 You didn’t respond to any of my points, but instead referred to another comment I made previously. I tore apart your defense mechanisms and I think you got a little upset at that because I was right. You even invoked one in your reply! If information and data doesn’t fit Tom’s diet, then it’s just a silly observational study that doesn’t prove causation 🙂

    it’s health-minded people who choose a vegetarian lifestyle in the first place.

    Are you sure about that? You might want to check up on your stereotypes. A lot of people go vegan because of ethical reasons.

    I’d bet on the paleo dieters every time.

    I wouldn’t. I showed (visual) evidence in my previous post of photos of ‘paleo dieters’. Most of ’em ain’t lookin so good.

    That’s true, many vegans choose that lifestyle for ethical reasons, which is why comparing fat low-carb dieters to skinny vegans is pointless. People like Neal Barnard and Morgan Spurlock were never fat in the first place, so it’s not the vegan diet that made them thin — they were already thin. (In Barnard’s case, he now looks like death warmed over.) By contrast, most low-carb dieters adopt that lifestyle in hopes of losing weight. So like any weight-loss diet, a low-carb diet attracts a disproportionate number of obese people, just like Weight Watchers, South Beach, Jenny Craig, etc. Therefore, taking cheap shots at people who have in many cases already lost 100 pounds but are still obese proves nothing, other than the fact that you’re a vegetrollian moron with zero understanding of science. I’ve spoken with many of those people, and like me, many of them tried vegetarian diets and only got fatter as a result.

    Honestly, Kenny Boy, do you really think you’re going to convince those of who got fat and sick on a vegetarian diet that a vegetarian diet is superior for weight loss by showing us pictures of walking-cadaver vegans who were never fat in the first place?

    I’m reasonably sure from your reply that you don’t know what “defense mechanism” means. So, in Kenny-Boy terms, what are my defense mechanisms and how exactly did you shred them? All I see is a moron repeating himself.

    I’ve been quite consistent since starting this blog in declaring that observational studies don’t prove anything. The reason I take that position is that they don’t prove anything. Studies of studies show that about 80% of the conclusions drawn from observational studies turn out to be wrong. The only person in this conversation who’s wildly inconsistent about his scientific beliefs is you. You trotted out some weak observational studies to “prove” that vegetarians have superior intellects and superior health, yet can’t bring yourself to deal with the fact that one of those studies showed a lower IQ among vegans. So, Kenny Boy, time to take a stand: do correlations prove causation or not? Yes or no? Because if they do, then according to the study you linked, going vegan lowers your IQ. You can’t have it both ways. Explain to all of us why the vegan kids had lower IQs, even though in Kenny-Boy land, vegans are smarter. If you can’t explain that one convincingly, then I’m going to stop allowing you to waste everyone’s time by posting your moronic comments.

    The only studies that really matter are controlled clinical studies, and controlled clinical studies have demonstrated that low-carb diets are superior for weight loss, fat loss, blood-pressure reduction, lipid-panel improvements, etc. If you can cite a controlled clinical study showing vegetarian diets besting low-carb diets for those clinical outcomes, please do so. If not, as I said before, we’ll be waving goodbye to you and your smelly-butt comments.

  9. Greg

    Kenny, regarding the photos of overweight people on the low carb cruise: people often *start* eating low carb because they have issues with weight or are type ii diabetics. Of course there are going to be overweight people in that group; low carb isn’t a magic bullet, it’s just a way to deal with the problem and improve your health markers, keep your blood sugar more controlled, and lose some weight. It’s no guarantee to get down to your ideal weight. That’s not how it works. Whereas vegans usually choose veganism not because of being overweight, but because of what they perceive as moral issues surrounding using animals as food – surely you know that! Take a group of fifty low-carbers and a group of fifty vegans and you’ll find way more people in the low-carber group who are battling obesity. Not *because* of the low carb! Is that really difficult to understand? You could post photos from any group responding to obesity – Weight Watchers, people on a low-fat diet, people who just joined the gym, etc. – and you’d obviously find a certain percentage of them still overweight to some degree. It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t make the point you think it does.

  10. Greg

    Oh, and I may have misstated my point a little – there are *plenty* of fat vegans and vegetarians. I’m just saying that there are also plenty who have never had an issue with weight prior to veganism and embraced it for other reasons, whereas people often find low carb because they find they are intolerant to carbohydrates, which often involves weight problems, and are looking for answers. But if you’re saying you’ve never met overweight vegans or vegetarians, you’re obviously being dishonest.

    I’ve known plenty of fat vegetarians, and I was once one myself. I recently came across a VHS tape of me from around 20 years ago. I was a vegetarian then, and also quite fat. Watching the video was humbling.

  11. Nowhereman

    Congratulations on getting your own farm. In honor of your move, I give you this oldie, but goodie:

    Having raised chickens, goats, lambs, horses, and grown a variety of crops in a modest-sized victory garden as a kid, I can tell you you’re in for a hard, but rewarding new life!

    I’m looking forward to it, but the day-to-day operations will be Chareva’s project.

  12. Mel H


    I just wanted to let you know that I recently found your documentary on Netflix, and boy was it an eye opener! I’ve always been good at avoiding sugars and refined carbs, but I didn’t realize their effect on insulin and metabolism. I hope to work towards a paleo diet, eventually getting to around 50-75 carbs a day (I still have to have a bun with my hamburger :)). Anyways, keep it up — And don’t let the people like Morgan Spurlock or the CSPI get in your way! By the way, did you know that you have a wikipedia article for yourself? You’re famous 😛

    I knew there was an entry for Fat Head … at least it stuck the second time someone entered. The first time, the Wiki editors deleted it.

  13. Becky

    Congrats, guys! This is super exciting news and I’m sure you & your family will have a blast creating your very own Green Acres (minus the grains, of course).
    Wow, I like to reaffirm my sanity by reading the Vegatrollian comments on here, and Kenny certainly confirms all of our suspicions about lectins and carbs making people crazy… I have your new nickname for you: the Low Carb Cowboy! I think it has a certain ring 🙂 Enjoy all of this process.

    I like Low Carb Cowboy. Sounds like the Marlboro man without the cigarettes.

  14. Craig

    Congrats on the house. Definitely looking forward to future blogs as you adjust, learn and adapt with your new surroundings.

    I feel sorry for your vegetrollian. I remember how easy it was to slip into rages as a vegetarian. My wife and I would start snapping at each other and get into huge arguments when our blood sugar would crash back then.

    Sounds as if a paleo diet could be considered a form of marital therapy.

  15. Tom

    Congrats on the farm Tom! I’m so glad to hear that you have your own stretch of land now to support the paleo diet. I’m very jealous! I can’t wait to read the blog now for your updates on ‘adjusting’ to farm life. Maybe it would be something my wife and I could do some day. Anyways, I noticed the the previous commenter mentioned that you were on Wikipedia (where I contribute a few times a week). I couldn’t help but notice that your bio mentions that you tried to be a Vegetarian, but stopped due to weight gain and ‘flatulence’!

    I’m not sure who wrote the entry, but I don’t recall bringing up that issue except in one humorous post a long time.

  16. TonyNZ

    “not the (huge) increase in saturated fat consumption over the past 2 decades”


    Saturated fat intake has gone way down in that time period, mate.

  17. Howard

    Tom, I think Grant Wood is spinning in his grave. 😀 Mazel tov on buying the farm!

    Rats, I kind of thought he’d like my wife’s version of his painting.

  18. Cathy K.

    Congratulations on becoming members of the landed gentry. To prepare yourself, rent a copy of “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” and take notes. 🙂 Seriously, good luck! When we looked at houses here in North Carolina, we were seriously tempted by a property in Chatham County where we could have raised chickens and goats. It was a bit beyond our reach, though, both monetarily and commuter-wise.

    P. S. We’re not Mormons, but my husband has worked with some faithful ones. He says that the Mormons he knew ate a TON of candy. Go figure.

    Interesting. The devout Mormons (from what a Mormon told me) are supposed to swear off the sodas, candies, drugs of all kinds (even coffee), etc.

  19. marné

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for your family. I am lucky enough to have almost a whole acre in San Diego county, and have been raising laying chickens, ducks, and there was even a brief foray into geese, for the past five years. I’ve considered goats, but with a full-time job and a long commute, I’m not quite ready for that commitment quite yet. Right now I’m trying to convince my husband that we need a few alpacas for their fleece (I am a knitter) and fertilizing capabilities.

    So if you need any poultry advice, let me know! They are really easy to care for, easier that cats and dogs, and I could never give up my free-range eggs that come from very happy (not vegetarian) birds. Ducks are actually even better layers than chickens, so you may want to consider including a few in your flock. Hard-boiled duck eggs are much better than chicken eggs (although I prefer the chicken eggs for frying).

    Oh, and as a Mormon, I can assure you that plenty of candy is eaten, coffee (and by association, caffeinated sodas) are a no-no.

    I’ve heard goats can be a major pain, so I don’t know whether we’ll try raising them or not. Chickens are definitely in the plans, however. I want the free-range eggs.

  20. Julie

    Hi Tom, I have to thank you for making me appreciate the 10 acres I own now. Well, I own 5 acres of weeds and trees, and am still paying for the other 5 acres of property. There is lots of work in the upkeep, and sometimes I lose focus of the reason I fought for this in the first place.

    Please do not block Kenny. I really enjoy the moronic commentary. I still am not sure why he is running around smelling your butt.

    Always good to remember why you wanted that land in the first place. In my case, I hope to go play a round of Frisbee golf whenever I need a reminder.

  21. Quasijo

    Congrats on the farm! I used to live in Franklin and I’m confident you’ll love it. Just watched your film tonight. I hope you make more, sir. Excellent work.

    Thank you. I already love Franklin.

  22. C


    All you did there was make me remember my vegetarian days and become starving for a cheeseburger. Ugh, thanks a lot! Now I’m hungry and it’s too late to go to McDonalds 😛

  23. Sean Preuss


    What a great story! Chareva sounds like an intelligent and proactive woman (both great qualities). Congrats on getting your farm.

    What led you to leave So Cal and why did you choose Tn?

    Btw, I’m a big fan of disc golf myself – there are a few good courses here in AZ.

    I never felt at home in California and realized after making Fat Head that living near Hollywood had almost nothing to do with it. I could’ve made pretty much the same film living anywhere. So with my older daughter reaching school age, I asked myself if I wanted her to grow up as an L.A. kid. Absolutely not. It’s a lousy place to raise kids, plus it’s ridiculously expensive. So deciding to leave was easy. I chose Franklin because I knew the area pretty well — my best friend has lived here for 25 years now — and I always liked it. Add in the fact that Tennessee is more of a small-government state with the third-lowest overall tax burden in the country, and it was a done deal.

  24. TonyNZ

    I heard of someone’s goats breaking into their house and eating their library. You strike me as a wide reader. Be cautious.

    Yikes. If we get goats, I’ll be keeping the books locked away.

  25. Vanessa F.

    I’m so jealous. I’m from Murfreesboro but now live in west Texas. I miss home. We’re on our 64th day over 100 degrees here and in an extreme drought. I miss trees and creeks and especially rain. Thanks for the pictures. It’s nice to see familiar scenery again. Enjoy your new farm!

    I love the scenery around here. We had hills near our home in California, but not like these.

  26. Rich

    You had me at 5.7 acres and a frisbee golf course. 🙂
    But seriously, Congrats. Living in central IL, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about doing something similar and I will be very curious as to your experiences, please share as often as you can. Good luck and good health.

    The Older Brother is in central Illinois and is looking for some land himself. You may end up comparing notes someday.

  27. Alex

    Congrats on buying the farm! 🙂

    And, since you seem appreciative of unsolicited advice, I’ll just add that a small tractor with a front-end loader can be really handy around a farmstead. Something along the lines of 30-40 horsepower diesel, like a Kubota. We bought a JD 1070 (38HP, diesel, John Deere but made by Yanmar) back in 1994, and I do everything with it. Mowing fields with 6′ rotary mower, plowing snow with blade, maintaining gravel drive with box blade, digging holes with 12″ post hole digger, hauling trailer with 325 gallon tank for watering landscape plantings, and anything else where being able to lift 1500 pounds of stuff in the loader might come in handy.

    BTW, we live about 18 miles from the actual house in that Grant Wood painting.

    I appreciate all the advice we can get. I’ve got my wife taking notes from the comments.

  28. leoncaruthers

    Congratulations, Tom, and best of luck to you. My wife and I just did the same thing in SE MI (5 acre horse farm). Planning to raise some pastured rabbits and chickens applying a few of Salatin’s Polyface methods. We’re thinking about dairy goats, but as other comments have noted, they can be somewhat prone to escape artistry, and milking is one of those “every day at the same time” chores that doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility.

    We may have to compare notes once our farm goes operational.

  29. Nowhereman

    “Interesting. The devout Mormons (from what a Mormon told me) are supposed to swear off the sodas, candies, drugs of all kinds (even coffee), etc.”

    That’s the key word there, “devout”. How many people of almost any religion do you know, that are truly that devoted that they follow all the tenants of their faith? For example, odd as it may sound, you can still get alcohol in many Islamic countries, and I’ve known a few Muslims who indulged in the occasional drink, and even very occasionally ate pork-related foods. Same thing with people of the Jewish faith.

    The one Mormon I know well is devout.

  30. Sara

    I am enormously jealous of your farm purchase! I already have a full time job and want to become a full-time blogger living on the land 🙂 Hopefully you won’t have to be back in the rat race for long.

    It’ll depend on how Fat Head and my other projects pan out. I’d like to own the farm free and clear within a few years if at all possible. If that means working full-time again, so be it.

  31. Alexandra

    If you are taking movie suggestions.. The Mr. Blandings movie is funny.. my absolute favorite black and white comedy is The Egg And I… Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert…a must see for anyone buying a farm.

    Today I have eaten home raised eggs, home raised bacon, home grown veggies and locally raised grass fed beef.. not all from my home, but from neighbors and folks I know. This evening I will be blanching and freezing some veggies for winter.

    I’m wondering if it will turn out “Funny Farm” for me.

  32. Katy

    Perhaps you could raise a few security goats, like the one that pinned my sister and me at the side of a picturesque country road! The goat had been chained to a large metal tire rim, but had pulled it free of the stake that kept him on his farm; he ran at us at top speed, then came to screeching halt, causing the wheel to swing out on the chain about 18″ from the ground (whoosh!), ominously threatening to break our legs or kneecaps. Every time we tried to get away, he’d turn and shoot goat pellets from his back end and then run up the hill to prepare for the next assault. This scenario repeated until a car came up the road and shielded us from our attacker until we got back to my mother-in-law’s house.

    I guess if a goat did that to me a few times, I could send it off to slaughter without any hesitations.

  33. Chareva

    @Alex and other experienced folk:
    If you could recommend a list of basic tools and equipment we should consider getting to help maintain the homestead – we’ll take all the advice we can get.

  34. bettyboop

    Congrats on the mini farm purchase. Really enjoyed your blog. You are
    a great writer. You really impressed me how you treated Doug the mover
    and how he in turn treated you on your recent moves. Speaking of moves
    I am moving from Jax, Fl to NC. Would you be able to plug Doug’s company
    so I can get a quote from him. Thanks alot.

    Good karma, I guess. I’ll send you Doug’s info.

  35. TonyNZ

    A pair of these are an absolute must if you have any wire fences on the property. The blurb pretty much says it all.

    I think we’ll be using one of those barns as a tool shed.

  36. Bev

    My family and I aquired almost two acres about a year and a half ago, and we are turning it into a really small mini farm one step at a time. We raised chickens last year and loved it, they really are entertaining animals. I would suggest getting a mixed flock of birds, ducks are also quite tasty and guineas devour insect pests voraciously.
    I cannot wait to hear stories of the familys first chopping block experience. My funniest was the last time my neighbor called to get me to help pluck some spare roosters and ducks. I told my guys I was going next door to get some chickens. When I came back with a bag full of poultry the teenager lounging on the couch looked up and shrieked “Why does that MEAT have FEET?”. She ate dinner anyway, even knowing that it had been using those feet that morning.
    Sadly enough, I don’t think I can devote space here to disc golf so we still go up to Murfreesboro for that, Barfield park has a great course, just in case you have not tried that one yet. Also, if you need a local source for healthy, pasture raised birds I can contact my neighbor that raises them here. We are just over an hour south of Franklin, so it is not a crazy long distance if you have not found a good breeder closer to you.

    Meat with feet … I love it. We’ll probably get thoroughly settled in and let winter come and go before looking for chickens.

  37. Leslie

    May I recommend that you immediately read all of Gene Logsdon’s books (and Joel Salatin’s) on farming? Good luck and enjoy!

  38. WSB

    Howdy neighbor! I’ve been getting eggs from Carolyn, wild acre farms, off Old Hillsboro. She has several different varieties including guinea hens and knows a lot about the local predators. Some of her birds can fly and roost. She was using a companion animal to protect the birds. I am drawing a blank… I think she is someone you would enjoy meeting and educational.

    Thank for the excellent tip! Our little farm is just off Old Hillsboro as well, so she’ll be a neighbor soon. Love to meet her.

  39. econo

    This debate is over, but for posterity, it´s good to actually fact-check the wilder claims of KennyM, complete with sourcing. This claim has the benefit of being easily checked. Hence it gives fence-sitters a great opportunity of easily checking the honesty / knowledge level of this particular vegan advocate:

    “not the (huge) increase in saturated fat consumption over the past 2 decades”

    Here follows the narrative on US sat fat consumption, based on USDA data:

    The obesity epidemic got rolling in the early 80-ies. In those days, the low-sat-fat message having dropped the amount of sat fat to about 50g / day / person, compared to about 55 g / d / p in the 50-ies and 60-ies.

    Saturated fat consumption then continued dropping throughout the 80-ies and 90-ies, to a low of 46 g / d / p in 1997. We all know how much healthier and thinner Americans became during those years, thanks to the dropping consumption of sat fat, no?

    In the 2000:s, sat fat consumption has rebounded somewhat, back to 1950-ies / 60-ies levels, presumably as the lo-fat craze has worn off.

    If you want to check the story, it can be found here, in all of its Excel glory:



    What nutrients did people increase their consumption of during the obesity epidemic? Carbohydrate and vegetable oils*. 100% vegan health food.

    There’s some posts on this site Tom wrote about the US Nutritional guidelines showing the decline in fat consumption while carbs took off.

    Facts don’t matter to vegetrollians.

    — The Older Brother

  40. Rebecca Latham

    I am too jealous for words! And so happy for the whole family! My grandparents had a place like that (every veggie there is, every berry there is, every fruit tree there is, plus chickens, goats, bees and rabbits, a greenhouse and flower gardens that were the bright spot of the whole town) and I spent time there almost every week. Small family farms are so wonderful, and I hope that when we move again we will be able to have at least enough to have a large garden.

    Sounds like you have some really rewarding hard work ahead of you! Congratulations! My grandparents built the house with their own four hands on weekends, did all the work and Grandma did all her wash by hand with a wringer washing machine and no dryer. Canned and froze all her food and baked like there was no tomorrow. Of course, she ended up with Type 2 Diabetes from all the sugar and flour, but I suspect you will be able to avoid all that!

    Again, so happy for you! I hope we will get to see more pictures as you get settled in…

    My wife tells me there are fruit trees in the back pasture that I haven’t seen yet. I’ll get to them when I don’t need a giant weed-whacker to get back there.


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